The man had a head of dazzling straw–colored hair and emitted a fearsome aura.
Nathaniel removed his shades to regard the contractor with an icy glare as if to warn the latter that he would not hold back against another word of disrespect against Christina.
The contractor was not afraid of the tiny woman, but he was concerned about breaching the contract, incurring the blame of his employer, and worst of all, receiving the fist of the man with the straw–colored
Swallowing his anger, he slipped the contact back into his pocket. “I have another three and a half days. I guarantee we will complete the job.”
Christina descended from the stool, satisfied.
She was in no hurry to leave. As a preventive measure to dissuade them from procrastinating, she remained behind to keep a watchful eye.
“Let’s get some coffee, Mr. Bodyguard.” She turned around to address the hulking figure.
Nathaniel noticed Christina’s smile. For once, she was not complaining about him tailing her, and it cheered him up.
In single file, the pair entered a narrow alley, where time seemed to have slowed down. Christina suddenly felt conspicuous, as if a tail had grown out of her; she was attracting attention wherever she went.
At the window–side café beneath a red and white striped tent, Christina bought two cups of coffee and handed one to the man.
Nathaniel took it. The pair then headed back and settled into the seats at the venue.
A slight breeze tugged at the strands of her hair that were tucked behind her ear. Beneath her fluttering lashes, her eyes twinkled. Her delicate features, outlined against the sun’s overcast glare, made her look like the subject of a dreamy painting.
Christina’s gaze fell on the workers. Watching their gradual progress, she felt a little more at ease.
Then, she went through her list of contacts for some popular models and influencers–artists she had once worked with.
She made three phone calls and received three rejections. They either claimed not to have the time or were tentative to commit.
“Your studio is embroiled in a scandal. People would think I condone the distribution of counterfeit goods if I attended your event,” said one influencer scathingly before she hung up.
Christina lowered her phone and sighed softly.
“Giving up already? Looks like nobody will be attending your fashion show. It wouldn’t matter how hard you try,” quipped Nathaniel, who had remained silent the entire time.
Christina turned to regard him. His cold and proud demeanor seemed to exert a force field that kept others at bay. Despite the proximity the pair shared over the past few days, every interaction with him felt
Christina ignored him. Instead, she kept making calls.
All of those, in turn, ended in more rejections.
Nathaniel could no longer bear to watch her getting beat down. “Why are you putting in so much effort? It’s just a design studio. I believe Mr. Hadley would open a hundred studios for you if you would just say
Just then, Christina’s contact picked up. As soon as they heard her voice, however, they hung up immediately.
It was curt and brisk.
Still ignoring him, Christina continued perusing her list of contacts.
Mr. Bodyguard is chattier than usual today. I prefer him silent.
Nathaniel grabbed her hand holding the phone. “Nobody would show up for your fashion show. To them, doing business with an insincere brand is a slap to the filce.”
That was the biggest taboo in the fashion industry. No matter the size of the brand, the slightest taint to its reputation would be met with the same disdain by the celebrities, and even more so for a tiny studio like
As she studied him, Christina uttered the name that sprang to mind: “Nathaniel.”
Nathaniel froze, his grip on her wrist tightening.
Have I exposed myself?
Christina narrowed her eyes at him. “You look like him Do you bodyguards working for the Hadley family share a temperament with your boss?”
All of them equally bossy and gloomy.
“Even if I were to leave, I won’t be leaving a mess for Yosef to clean up. Besides, this studio is important to him.” the woman added.
Christina’s explanation caused Nathaniel’s envy, which had just subsided, to rise again. “Are you doing this for Yosef?” he asked, lowering his hoarse voice.
“Yes. I have the responsibility to restore the studio to what it once was before I leave.” I wouldn’t feel good leaving otherwise.
Nathaniel bit his lower up.
She stays up late for Yosef. She picks a fight with a man several heads taller than her for Yosef. She puts in so much effort for Yosef. What about him is worth her efforts?
Christina glanced at the time and stood up from her seat. At once, her wrist was grabbed.
She could sense the intensity of the man’s piercing gaze even through his shades. “Is it your responsibility to leave children behind in Scenic Garden Manor for a man?”
The grip around Christina’s wrist began to hurt. She frowned, displeased. “This is my personal business. It’s not your place to speak.”
With the hostile tone, she snatched back her hand.
Nathaniel stood up suddenly, his hulking frame giving her a sense of oppression. “Do you like Yosef? Do you love him?”
When he posited the question, Nathaniel felt his heartthrob.
If Christina said yes, I will kick Yosef’s ass.
Christina was nonplussed by the question. A mix of complex emotions rose within her, and she chuckled. “Don’t jump to conclusions about something you have no idea about. Yosef has been of great help to me. I owe him that much.”
“How much exactly? Mr. Hadley can pay him back for you.”
Christina froze in her act of taking off. She regarded him with a hint of annoyance on her countenance. **Somebody extends a helping hand to pull you out of a difficult predicament. Can this kindness be
measured with money?”
She had been alone with two children, and it had been Yosef who had helped her. She could not leave without regard for Yosef.
Worried, Nathaniel followed suit.
Christina stopped and turned around to glare at him. Tell Nathaniel that he’d better not do anything to harm my friend, or I will never forgive him.”
Without another word, she hailed a passing cab and entered the vehicle.
Nathaniel hurried in after her. He had even less of a reason to allow Christina out of his sight after that.
The pair returned to the hotel. Christina was truly angered. Throughout the journey, she scowled at him and busied herself with work the moment they entered the room.
Upon her return, Ginny asked after her in concern.
At noon, Ginny brought her lunch over to Nathaniel as he intended to eat with him.
Nathaniel was irritated. She did not seem intent to leave him alone after his hints, so he sought refuge in his own room.
Christina reveled in secret satisfaction when she saw him leave. He appeared afraid of Ginny approaching.
Christina worked through the day, and the product was almost completed. However, she still failed to secure the attendance of a single model or guest.
Without them, the show would not go on. It means everything I have done would have been in vain.
When Ginny went out to buy dinner that night, Christina sprawled on the desk to take a short break.
The room door swung open, admitting Nathaniel. The ball of rage that had developed earlier that day subsided at the sight of the tired woman.